Eleven days after the Attack on America, Calgary will host its first Walk With the World.
"This is something that needed to happen," said University of Calgary student and Walk organizer Sidd Thakore. "Especially after what happened last week. Bringing people together in Calgary has an added weight now."
Presented by the Calgary Multicultural Centre, the Walk will take place Sat., Sept. 22, at Millenium Park on 11th Street SW. The 5 km event, intended to celebrate Calgary's multicultural diversity, features exhibit stations every kilometre representing cultures from the five continents.
Lillian Nakamura-Maguire, Associate Director of Programs at the U of C Cultural Diversity Institute explained her reasons for participating in the Walk were twofold.
"I appreciate the fact that the multicultural centre initiated this and brought together groups who want to promote the cultural diversity of Calgary," she said. "I felt it was important to support that initiative. And I am participating for several personal reasons."
Nakamura-Maguire is of Japanese descent and explained that her parents' internment during the second World War influenced her personal philosophies on respecting diversity and equity. She added that xenophobia should be guarded against in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"There has already been some backlash in Calgary against certain religious groups, so I'm very concerned about that," she said. "I'm concerned about ethnic profiling. That's what happened to the Japanese during the second World War and I would hope that we have learned something from that part of our history and we don't want to re-create it."
Free and open to the public, a number of groups are sponsoring the Walk, including the U of C International Centre.
"This a really dynamic and visible way of supporting internationalization," said Heather MacIntosh, Manager of International Project Developments at the IC. "As the U of C internationalizes, we want to be the kind of institution that welcomes international ideas and cultures."
MacIntosh also spoke to the importance of the Walk in light of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
"This really gets to the heart of who we are as Canadians," she said. "I think it's important to express proudly that we are a nation of diversity. We should continue to uphold that ideal, especially in times of terrorism."
All three encouraged students to take part in the walk.
"I think that it's a great way for students to demonstrate their tolerance and openness in celebration of our multicultural society," said MacIntosh.
"Students are the people who have a big influence in society," agreed Thakore. "I think it's important to get involved, because things start with us."
Interested individuals can call 237-5850 for more information.